A Photo Tour in Andalucia

Next year we are offering Photo Tours in Andalucia, Southern Spain when we will be dipping our toes into the city of Seville, Spain’s sun dappled, fiesta loving, passionate land with the scent of orange blossom and the sounds of the flamenco guitar.  Also on the agenda is living like a local in Genalguacil, an Andalusian  mountain village seemingly sprinkled into the mountain and home to modern artists living and working alongside octogenarians who have lived here all their lives. Art works are displayed at every twist and turn of this stunning white village. Our tours will include a stay in Granada, with it’s medieval, moorish Albaicin area and the impressive Alhambra Palace. 

We travelled with Air Portugal from Miami to Malaga with a change in Lisbon. The flight out gave us 15 hours to explore a corner of Lisbon. Having never visited before we found it a pleasure, enjoying walking in the Jardims gardens, a coffee at one of the typical coffee kiosks and some satisfying warm Autumn sunshine. 

From Malaga we rented a car for a week to travel from place to place on our location scout. The first adventure was a drive into the mountains, an hours drive north from the coastal town of Estepona. The road winds up and down with spectacular views into the Genal valley, past olive groves, cork trees and sweet chestnuts. We met the occasional goat in the road who were not startled but merely peered at us as if to say ” I belong here not you” before hopping out of the way amongst the rocks.

A tourists takes photos of the scenic Genal valley, Andalucia, Spain
A tourists takes photos of the scenic Genal valley, Andalucia, Spain

In the village of Genalguacil we met Miguel, he is the Mayor of the village and a personal friend. Over a beer or 2 perched on rustic chairs outside the local Rural Hotel , where we were staying for the night – we casually discussed our plans to bring a group of photographers to his village. Miguel is very keen and proactive at bringing Artists into the village and offered ways to help including a studio for tutoring classes and an exhibition of final work to be printed in a brochure. The next morning we woke early to meet Salvadore, a friend of Miguel’s who was taking us to see some local chestnut harvesting. A great opportunity for Gary to get some authentic images of people / small business/ farming. 

After a typical late lunch with the locals consisting of  egg and meat soup, followed by tortilla we set out down the mountain for the city of Seville.

Almost 3 hours drive away Seville has been a favourite get away location for a while. Having always arrived by taxi we soon learnt how difficult it is to park a car! It took an hour to find a place, fortunately it wasn’t far from our Airbnb location. Once in Seville there is no need for a car. Everywhere is accessible by foot, the narrow winding streets have a surprise for you at every twist and turn with a cafe, plaza, decorative Spanish tiling, a church or monument. Photo opportunities abundant in the architecture, colour and lifestyle of this enchanting city. We particularly enjoy finding our way to the oldest tapas bar in town, El Rinconcillo established in 1670, not only for the great wine and tapas but also to people watch and shoot some street photography. 

Our 2 hour drive from Seville to Granada saw the scenery change again, expanses of dry arid desert land with layers of mountains as it’s backdrop. In the Spring the mountain peaks are snow capped and it possible to combine a day of sunny city exploring with a snowy Alps like hike. 

We chose to explore the Albaicin, the old Moorish quarter of the city late in the afternoon. With its medieval maze like cobbled streets to meander, climbing high in the town we got the perfect view over the terracotta rooftops. It is a neighbourhood where you can experience the atmosphere of its bars and terraces, and watch a red sunset over the Alhambra. whilst listening to the sounds of Flamenco coming from the caves.

Flamenco show in the caves of the Albaicin, Granada
Flamenco show in the caves of the Albaicin, Granada

With the curiosity to explore the coast between Granada and Malaga we spent our last night in Almuñécar a resort town on the beach. Not blessed with beauty by day we discovered a gem at night. At this time of year the town has few tourists, there are many beach front restaurants to chose from for dinner. On our to-do list was to sample some Espetas de Sardinas, freshly skewered and smoked in a wood fire laid in a boat on the sand. Carefully selecting a restaurant with tables almost on the sand we chose a table at the front, ordered our sardines and watched them being cooked. They were fresh and delicious and cost only €6. Sitting back with a good wine in a good glass, the sun had gone down, the night was warm, we toasted our successful treasure hunt.

Fresh sardines cooked on charcoal fire on beach, Almuñécar, Spain
Fresh sardines cooked on charcoal fire on beach, Almuñécar, Spain

The drive back to Malaga took us on the coast road through regenerated old fishing villages, some of which still retained charm with tastefully renovated fisherman’s huts, tidy promenades with typical pavement cafes and bars. 

In the city of Malaga where we have visited a number of times we always discover something new to us. The Cathedral, The Gibralfo castle, The Glass Museum, The Picasso Museum to name a few. This time we only had time to say hello to Picasso ( a statue of the artist sits in Plaza de la Merced) and sit with a coffee watching the people go by. Picasso was born in Malaga in 1881 in a house in this square and spent a part of his life here before leaving to study art in Madrid, Barcelona then Paris.

Now we have an itinerary for our photo tours in Andalucia but will be researching transport options using the train to travel between Seville and Granada. 

Going wild with a VW campervan in Spain

Beautiful landscapes, some sun and an open road in the Basque region of Spain. The perfect excuse for letting your hair down and going wild with a VW campervan.

Leaving the humid climate of Florida is always a good idea in August if you can get away therefore we chose to head to the Basque region of Spain. With it’s green vegetation and fertile land, mountain peaks as well as rocky coves travelling is curious yet pleasantly rewarding with a surprise around every corner. Add to this the decision not to use any organised campsites, instead we would seek out natural spots in forests, by the beach or somewhere wild for an overnight stop with the VW campervan. Of course this meant ensuring we left the spot undisturbed, removing any rubbish and choosing a location which was unlikely to bother any local residents – including animals! If in doubt we were always prepared to ask permission to park overnight.

Joined by friends in a classic 1965 VW campervan we had no plans and an open road. I wanted to capture the freedom and escapism we experienced on this road trip. Although using the technology of GPS systems to help us to an end destination was useful, we also found the old fashioned paper map invaluable to navigate our way through small towns and villages. It added to the charm of this get away from it all vacation.

Carefree moments are captured in the camera from the wind blowing our hair on the open road, baguettes and camembert cheese eaten by the road side and the sausages cooking on a gas stove for breakfast in the pine forests. Getting lost, really getting lost, adds to the scenarios with the paper map saving the day.

Nothing beats the evenings. Our skin tingles from the sun after a few hours on the beach and we have the wonderful feeling of healthy tiredness from a day of fresh air. We sit in our camping chairs with a citronella candle sipping chilled rose wine and looking forward to the next day’s adventures.

Going wild with a VW campervan in Europe may not be everyone’s idea of a relaxing vacation. But there are ways to incorporate it into a a few days away with the comfort of a proper bed and bathroom. Book a hotel on route or even better stay in a rental accomodation eg. Airbnb for a couple of days. This way you will keep refreshed while exploring and you will be meeting the locals who are always ready to share their knowledge of the area.

Our next Spanish journey is to the coastline and white mountain villages of Andalucia in Southern Spain. We are putting together our photography workshops for 2017.

See a link here to more images.

 

Camping lifestyle in Spain

 

Our latest lifestyle photoshoot series revolved around a camping lifestyle in Spain.

Family camping trip in Spain
Family camping trip in Spain

Senior talent and a young family came together in a great location in southern Spain and a talented, fun, adaptable crew included a photo assistant and a stylist. Organising the photoshoot took six months of production with a local producer from Granada. Using a producer added increased production value to the imagery.

The two young boys and their Mum came with us from UK but the senior talent were booked through an agency in Granada. Using a producer helped with the language barrier and he organised locations and permits. A permit was needed to shoot half way up the mountain! Having the young family with us ensured a good relationship with the children and they got to know and trust everyone. Having two boys of similar age meant we could switch them around if one was not ‘camera ready’, for example, still in his pyjamas having been pulled from his bed at 6am! The Mediterranean hours took some adjusting for them. The late nights not being the  problem….

We shot a camping lifestyle in Spain in the Sierra Nevada amongst the snow-capped mountains that formed a background to the playful camping shots. The tranquility of the lake was perfect for the evening shoot with friends relaxing around the campfire.

As always light was the key to the images. Early starts and long evening shoots to capture the delicate light. Luckily we were able to sneak a much-needed siesta!

 

 

Four days in Spain

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We flew London to Barcelona, leaving cold, wet UK and arriving to cool late afternoon sun that warmed our faces. Four days in Spain started in Barcelona after which we were location scouting the tree houses in Sierra del Montseny, 84 km (52 miles) from Barcelona,

To get to our hotel the plan was to use the Train and Metro system but we discovered the  airport bus cost €5.90. It took us to centre of the city . This proved a wise choice as we later discovered there is not much room on trains for luggage, which we had plenty of due to the photographic equipment.

A taxi took us from Plaza Espanya to our hotel for the night for €8.00.

My usual luck was still in abundance as having lost our booking the hotel upgraded us to the penthouse suite! This included a kitchenette and balcony. Well worth paying for if you want space and fresh air. The hotel was in a super area, around the corner from Las Ramblas, a short walk to the Mercado and the port, plus the Metro on the doorstep. Highly recommended.

Wednesday 29th

Temperatures warmed up so we enjoyed a stroll along Las Ramblas. We grabbed some breakfast and headed to the market.  I planned to photograph Anna shopping amidst the moving crowds. Unfortunately this was interrupted by the appearance of security. Tapping the tripod and the word ‘no’ was enough for me to understand using a camera with tripod was forbidden. My idea was to shoot using a long shutter speed, keeping Anna in focus but blurring background, thus stability of tripod was essential. With plan A shot to pieces we moved into the street to try the same thing. This time we did not get in trouble but found a ‘crowd’ slow moving and avoiding us! So tricky to get the effect I was after.

Location scouting

After lunch it was time to pick up a hire car, load up and head into the mountains for a couple of nights in a treehouse!
(Fantastic place to escape from the world, very clean, good food and friendly helpful staff. Very little English spoken which pleased Anna as she then HAD to practice her Spanish! )

Only 1 hour 20 mins drive north and inland from Barcelona but we watched in horror as the temperature gauge in the car plummeted from 23 degrees to 5 at the lowest!!
At the ‘cabanas’ it read 7.5, however we soon cosied up with the gas stove on. There was no electric or water in the tree house, everthing was organic and kind to the world. even the toilet was a bucket with a lid and a pot of sawdust. Use your imagination here! We spent the evening in the farmhouse with wonderful home cooked food and wifi!

Thursday 30th

Breakfast was preordered. Coffee, juice, breads and croissants were delivered to our cabana in a basket. It was tied to a rope which you hoist up then enjoy on the veranda or in bed. Looking out over the tree tops, in our case. We really chilled out today then took a hike around the mountain discovering sun and warmth on the south side sheltered from the breeze.

On Friday 31st we returned the hire car back in Barcelona. As we got closer the temperature rose dramatically. A very surreal experience. After four days in Spain we returned to London Gatwick on 4.55pm flight.

Family Lifestyle shoot, Tarifa, Spain

 

 

dad and two young boys explore rocks at beach in spain

We arrived late Monday for a few days of R&R before shoot begins on Friday. Travelling with Anna, Maria, Jack and Harry aged 5 and 6, the talent for the photoshoot.

Tuesday
Hired car, drove to Tarifa. Stopped in Fuengirola for haircut and coffee.
Great apartment, food shopping, walk along beach to Atlantic/Mediterranean point.

Wednesday
Walked to old town am. Postcards, lunch (menu del dia €11). Fantastic hot sun and blue sky.
Drove up mountain to see wind turbines close up, location scout for shoot later in week. Very bumpy ride and very windy.

Thursday
Road trip
Tarifa- secret beach – Casares to see John Graingers little house – Genalguacil to meet with Miguel to discuss photo workshops.

Friday
Jens arrived, assistant and model to join Maria, Jack and Harry for ‘family simple life’ shoot.
I like to use the evening or early morning light for my scenarios so the following days required early mornings to catch the sunrise or later as it sets.

Friday eve: Jens and boys at home playing chess, quiet moments crashing on sofa.

Saturday
Up early to get to ‘Secret Beach’, climbing, sitting on rocks, walking in sea, time with mum and dad, subtle tender moments with gentle lighting and atmospheric back light.

Evening light : car travel, boys in car using electronic devices, looking out window.
Plan was to shoot some more football on beach but the wind had picked up.. It is Tarifa.. So abandoned for picnic on the terrace.
Later managed to capture a great shot of ‘dad and son’ snuggled up in den with laptop. The light from the device being the only lighting used.

Sunday
Family lazy morning, in tousled bed, mum,dad,boys. Harry’s crossed legs while he uses the ipad makes it all so real and cuddly!
A drive up the mountain to the wind turbines and some exciting fun shots of Anna’s hair blowing madly about her face. Yes, she was cursing later!

Monday
We head home today but not before some great shots of kids in airport pulling their luggage and on plane in awe of the view through the window.

Travelling back from Spain with the kids, I grabbed my camera bag from the overhead locker and rushed off the plane. A women said to me, “Are you leaving your family?!” and my reply, “They are not my family, I just borrowed them!”